Navigating New Hampshire’s newly legal sports betting

  • New Hampshire's newly legalized sports betting through DraftKings is live for 2020. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • A couple longer-shot bets on the NBA season.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/8/2020 4:00:16 PM
Modified: 1/8/2020 3:59:41 PM

Last week, New Hampshire’s legalized sports betting officially launched, and like many others, it was a day I’d been waiting for. I still remember the first sports bet I placed, taking the underdog North Carolina Tar Heels over the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines in the 1993 NCAA Finals. I collected a lot of lunch money that next morning from my South Meadow School classmates. And who could forget the Ledger-Transcript’s pigskin pick-em contest in the 2015-16 NFL season, where I narrowly edged out Jared Stauffeneker to win the season-long competition.

Would my foray into this brave new world of legalized gambling pay off in a similar fashion? There was only one way to find out.

New Hampshire’s sports betting is run by DraftKings, which plans to open retail betting locations in the state in the near future. For now, anyone over 18 can bet via the DraftKings app, which offers about every kind of wager you’d want on every sport out there, from team futures to player props to pick-the-winner, over/under, parlays and so on.

I decided to stick with what I knew best – or at least what I thought I knew, which is the NBA and NFL.

The easiest way to hit it big, in my mind, was to bet three-wager parlays, stacking the odds up for the biggest payout. If the 76ers could beat the Pacers, the Hornets could cover a seven-point spread against the Celtics, and the Nuggets could beat the Rockets, my $15 would turn into $80 in a heartbeat. I quickly learned it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

I went through the week betting parlays each day for about $10 a pop, but could never manage to pick more than one or two of the three NBA games correctly against the spread and with the over/under. The weekend rolled along, and I was about $40 down. Time to switch to football.

I’m surely not alone in New England when it comes to betting on the Patriots, even this year, but my wager on them to win the Super Bowl – or even just beat the Titans – proved fruitless.

I came dangerously close to a big payday on Sunday, where I picked Seahawks +1 and Vikings +7.5 correctly, but the Vikes and Saints didn’t hit the over, and I was just about ready to give up.

Then I saw my chance. The Celtics were heading to Washington Monday night for their third game in four days, Kemba Walker was hurt, and the Wizards were 8.5-point underdogs. Time to strike. I took the Wizards and the under of 226.5, and my conservative $5 turned into $18, small potatoes but a good start as I looked to recoup my initial losses.

On Tuesday, I woke up, checked the lines for the day’s NBA games, and listened to my gut – I didn’t like any of my options, and after a week of daily betting, it was time to take a day off.

The first numbers from the state lottery commission came out later that day. New Hampshire gamblers wagered over $3.44 million in the first week.

“Early returns show that sports betting was absolutely the right bet for New Hampshire to make,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “With over $3.44 million already wagered here in the Granite State, and with revenues benefiting our state’s education system, this is already proving to be a big win. The demand is there and New Hampshire is happy to serve as the region’s go-to destination for sports betting.”

I learned a valuable lesson in my first week of sports betting: keep it simple. No need to swing for the fences every time when you can make a few conservative bets, stockpile winnings and then use those profits for a tantalizing wager later on.

In a perfect world, I’d be able to bet on NHIAA high school basketball games, something I’m extremely familiar with, but until that day comes, I’m happy to have the option of betting on pro sports without having to go to a casino to do it. And as long as I gamble responsibly, the worst-case scenario is I donate a few dollars to New Hampshire public schools.

Speaking of responsible, a $1 bet on Tacko Fall to win NBA Rookie of the Year pays out $751...that’s a lot of tacos!


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